By Janeen Ellsworth
Pumpkin is so last month!, you're thinking. But, hey, I rely on pumpkin all winter long--it adds that special creamy sweetness I'm hunting for to nourish me through the cold weather; to soups, pies, breads, pancakes, even beer!
And pie-pumpkins stay fresh for so long just hanging out on the counter. They're a cinch to get in October and keep as a decoration until you're ready to prep.
Using fresh, real pumpkin keeps packaging out of the landfill and prevents exposure to potentially harmful BPA, which comes in that plastic-y liner of many canned food products.
Plus, the smell of one roasting in the oven brings a slice of heaven right into your home. And you cannot find a more beautiful color than that of the rusty-leather-orange of an oven-roasted pumpkin skin:)
To roast your own pumpkin, simply:
1. cut your pie-pumpkin in half,
2. scoop the seeds out (and save them for planting later if you want to grow them in your garden!),
3. roast on a sheet pan drizzled with oil for about an hour at 375 degrees,
4. scoop the flesh out of its shell,
5. transfer to a bowl and puree (I do this with an immersion blender but a food processor is ace!)
6. then you can use it right away or freeze it (I do so in 1-pint-containers; one pumpkin usually makes about a quart of puree.)
I roasted and froze a few pumpkins early in November and have been using the deliciousness ever since. Yesterday I made a batch of this pumpkin bread for our monthly potluck meetup.
Normally for potluck each family makes a main or side dish, but this month our beloved Ms. J, who usually arrives for big hugs and then keeps the kiddos occupied while us grownups drone on about "boring stuff," hosted us at her place. And when Ms. J hosts, she goes all out! She made The Most Unbelievable Feast: of pork chops smothered in gravy, and chicken done three ways, and kielbasa of all types, and glorious string beans, and homemade mac 'n cheese that brings shame to anyone else who's ever tried to melt cheese over noodles. No--my kids will never eat anyone else's mac 'n cheese ever again! (Ugh!) The whole afternoon at Ms. J's was cozy, loving and supremely nurturing, and I'm so grateful to have her in our orbit.
Psst...Before I give you the recipe, do you wanna know a real dirty secret? Of course you do!
Here goes: You don't even have to use pumpkin to make this bread--you can use pretty much any kind of orange-colored squash, like hubbard or even butternut. I swear. The texture and spices do the trick. Since we belong to a CSA (community shared agriculture), we often get an influx of squashes come autumn. So if you find yourself with an abundance of squash, instead of letting them languish, try a sweet treat like this for your next gathering!
Easy, Clean, Delish Pumpkin Bread
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the following dry ingredients into one bowl:
1 and 1/4 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 t ground ginger (use fresh, finely chopped, for a special & superb extra zing!)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
In a separate bowl, mix together:
3/8 C brown sugar
2 large eggs
Then, add to the brown sugar and eggs:
1 C pumpkin puree
3 tbsp. canola oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 C raisins (dried crans would do well here too!)
Stir well to combine.
Add the wet mixture to the bowl of dry ingredients.
Then it's time to bake!
Pour batter into a greased 9x5" loaf pan (or muffin tin).
Bake at 350 for 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
(For muffins, check with a toothpick at 30 minutes; if it doesn't come out completely clean, give 'em a few more minutes but check incrementally so they don't dry out!)
I'm Janeen; writer, mother, wife, and full-time, radical Reductionist. I share stupid-easy tips on how to save money while reducing your impact on the environment, & I'm committed to helping others live a life of simple sustainability.
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